FA Cup quarter final weekend has arrived, although there are four Premier League games taking place on Saturday afternoon.
Three of the encounters could be described as relegation six-pointers, including QPR’s match against Sunderland where Harry Redknapp will hope his team can build on a 2-1 win at Southampton by beating the Black Cats.
The Saints haven’t benefitted from replacing Nigel Adkins so far and face a difficult trip to Carrow Road, while the match between Reading and Aston Villa could have dire consequences for the losing team.
West Brom and Swansea can both start planning for life in next season’s Premier League although the Baggies will be looking for revenge after losing at the Liberty Stadium earlier this term.
Norwich v Southampton 15.00
One more win for the Canaries might be enough to guarantee top-flight survival after a topsy-turvy season which saw Norwich endure a difficult start to the campaign. They then embarked on a fine unbeaten run which saw them pick up lots of points and that autumn hoarding came in handy after a not-so-purple patch recently.
Not surprisingly, City are the 29/20 favourites (BetVictor) to claim three points from a match against a Southampton team who are one point closer to the relegation zone since replacing Nigel Adkins with Mauricio Pochettino.
The Saints might have beaten Manchester City recently although Saturday’s home reverse against QPR means the south coast team sit uneasily in 16th place and the Argentine has done little to stop the defence conceding goals.
On the flip side, Southampton were a hair’s breadth away from winning at Wigan and also played well when losing 2-1 at Old Trafford, with Norwich not exactly pulling up any trees at the moment and suffering a 4-0 defeat against Manchester United last weekend.
Ladbrokes go 21/10 that the visitors make the relegation battle even more interesting by winning the match and potentially pulling their opponents into a scrap as a result. They certainly won’t fear a team who have failed to score in three of their last four games.
QPR v Sunderland betting tips
Having spent the whole season festering in the Premier League bottom three, it’s possible that QPR could be within a point of safety if results go their way this weekend, although they have to get their own house in order first.
Rangers are predictably favourites to win at Loftus Road on Saturday although can we really trust a team that have still only won one home match this season. Many were expecting the Hoops to reach that tally on a sunny August day against Swansea before it all went horribly wrong by losing 5-0 to the Swans.
Perhaps that 2-1 win at Southampton was a watershed moment and we will now see Rangers record back-to-back wins for the first time this season. Bet365 offer 11/8 about the home win and you can see them beating a Sunderland team who have been distinctly ordinary for much of the season.
Martin O’Neill’s team have chuntered along in the lower reaches of the Premier League without looking too troubled by relegation and they recovered from a 2-0 deficit against Fulham last weekend to earn a point. They might have had three if the referee had pointed to the spot late in the game.
Sunderland do pull the occasionally good result out of the bag and 9/4 might seem an attractive price about the visitors considering only Fulham have lost at Loftus Road this term, although they don’t inspire confidence with stats of 3-4-7 on the road.
Reading v Aston Villa 15.00
The team who have conceded 27 goals at home this season play a side that have conceded 33 times on the road. It points to a high-scoring thriller at the Madejski Stadium!
Brian McDermott probably expected nothing more than a scrap against Premier League relegation this term, although Paul Lambert would have targeted a place in the top half of the top flight and that is almost certain not to happen after Monday night’s defeat against Manchester City.
There was plenty of endeavour from the Villans but few scoring chances were created by the Midlands club who will now look to win this match and put four points between themselves and the Royals.
An away win can be backed at odds of 85/40 (BetVictor) although we’re talking about a team with just one victory in their last eleven games. A recent trip to Goodison Park saw the Villans race into a 3-1 lead before being pegged back and defensively they are far from trustworthy.
The one positive for the visitors all season has been the form of Christian Benteke and the Belgian will deserve a big heap of thanks if his team do stay in the top flight. Hills offer 11/2 about him scoring first against opponents who have started to lose their way after working their way out of the bottom three.
Reading looked doomed a few months ago before embarking on a run of games which saw them win six out of eight occasions. In truth, two of these victories were in the FA Cup and there were some unlikely comebacks against West Brom, Newcastle and Chelsea.
These results do at least suggest team spirit and a win against Villa would do wonders for their survival hopes, with Coral going 11/8 that the Royals claim a fifth home win of the campaign and lift themselves out of the danger zone as a result.
West Brom v Swansea City betting tips
Two of the surprise packages in the Premier League meet at The Hawthorns on Saturday and there is nothing to separate the two teams after 28 games played.
Both West Brom and Swansea were tipped for a relegation scrap this season with new managers in charge, although Steve Clarke and Michael Laudrup have both done their teams proud and the latter steered the Swans to their first trophy in a 100-year history.
That means a place in next season’s Europa League for the Welsh side who come into this game off the back of a 1-0 win against Newcastle and the visitors can be backed at 11/5 (Ladbrokes) to record their fifth away win of the season.
Swansea did win the reverse fixture by a 3-1 scoreline and Michu played a typical starring role not for the first time this season. The Spaniard is likely to be on the Player of the Year shortlist such has been his impact since arriving from Rayo Vallecano and he’s 6/1 with Sky Bet to score first in this match.
Not that West Brom lose too many matches at The Hawthorns and wins against Liverpool and Sunderland steadied the ship recently after a run of eight games without a victory. Paddy Power go 13/10 about a home win on Saturday and the Baggies might a bit fresher than opponents who recently won a cup final at Wembley.
Romelu Lukaku has been a quality loan signing this term and will surely form part of Chelsea’s future after scoring twelve goals including three in his last two matches, with the forward looking a value bet to score first at 11/2. He scored twice in West Brom’s last home match against Sunderland.